Nontoxic spray is a hit with readers who say it keeps mosquitoes at bay

8/11/02 The Detroit News

By Nancy Szerlag / Special to The Detroit News

When I wrote about the Mosquito Magnet, a new machine that can rid the yard and garden of mosquitoes, a few weeks ago, a couple of readers gave me a heads up on a nontoxic liquid spray that also is effective at keeping skeeters at bay.

Renea Hulbert of Richmond e-mailed to rave about a product called Garlic Barrier, which she uses to keep her yard clear of mosquitoes. Hulbert has used it for five years and says it does an excellent job of keeping these blood-sucking pests out of her yard. Before discovering Garlic Barrier, Hulbert, who lives on five acres that includes a pond and is not far from the Belle River, says the mosquitoes made her family's life miserable. Now her three kids have the run of the place and remain bite-free. And the liquid is nontoxic, so she does not have to worry about exposing her kids, animals or the environment to poisonous chemicals.

Ray Meesseman, a local distributor of Mosquito Barrier, essentially the same product sold under a different name, also e-mailed to sing its praises.

Originally developed for use as a pesticide for the commercial farming industry, Garlic Barrier and Mosquito Barrier work in two ways to keep the mosquitoes at bay. The active ingredient, which is 99.3 percent garlic juice, kills off mosquitoes in the nymph stage. Sulfur present in the garlic acts as a repellent on the adults.

Renea Hulbert insists it also works on black flies and deer flies. The Web site for both products is www.rmc-barrier.com, which also includes bees on the list of bugs they repel. So, this product may be a lifesaver for those who are allergic to bee stings.

But let's not forget that bees are important pollinators in the garden, so care should be taken when spraying plants that require bees to produce a crop.

Ah, but there's more good news. According to published reports, Garlic Barrier and Mosquito Barrier have also proven to be an effective deterrent to fleas, gnats, rabbits, deer, geese and even armadillos. (I thought I'd throw that in because folks from all over the country read my articles on The Detroit News Web site and armadillos are a real problem in the South and Southwest.)

Hulbert dilutes the liquid garlic juice in water and, using her pump action garden sprayer, walks back and forth over the lawn, spraying the grass. The package directions recommend the addition of a sticker, such as canola oil, to help the product adhere to the foliage, but Hulbert has never bothered to use it. The manufacturers recommend reapplication every two to four weeks, but Hulbert only sprays her yard three times a year. Weather conditions have had a big effect in the size of the mosquito population, and excessive rainfall may make more frequent applications necessary.

If this stuff sounds too good to be true, hold onto your hat, there's more. Because Garlic Barrier and Mosquito Barrier are also effective for use as an organic pesticide, so it may also help keep chewers from chomping on your greenies at the same time.

But we're not done yet. For centuries, garlic has been used and touted for its antifungal properties, and that may mean spraying the yard with Garlic Barrier or Mosquito Barrier could help reduce the incidence of fungal diseases that causes brown patches in the lawn. The results of laboratory studies in India using garlic oil as a soil drench showed that it completely inhibited the growth of soil-borne fungal diseases that cause damping off in seedlings.

The commercial-grade concentrate of Mosquito Barrier or Garlic Barrier is available only in one-gallon containers that retail for $99. That may sound expensive, but one gallon when diluted will provide coverage for five-acres of land.

Smaller quart and pint-sized units of Garlic Barrier sold in stores are much less expensive, but contain a more diluted form of the product. Renea Hulbert has tried these dilute forms, using them according to their package directions and says they are not as effective. So she recommends using only the concentrate sold in the gallon containers.

Ray Meesseman sells one gallon containers of the full-strength (99.3 percent strength) Mosquito Barrier for $95, which includes shipping and taxes. For information, call (877) 848-7600.

Meesseman also sells an organic fertilizer made from fish and kelp that he suggests using as a sticker in place of the canola oil. I'm sure it's great for the grass, but if you hope to use the Mosquito Barrier to keep animals such as raccoons out of your yard, I would pass on using the fertilizer as a sticker. It has been my experience that raccoons will flock to any area that smells remotely of fish.